CMA urges collegiality, not confrontation, to improve patient care

OTTAWA, Jan. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - Canadian Medical Association (CMA) President Dr. Anne Doig decried the "disingenuous fearmongering" of the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario concerning the role of physician assistants (PAs) in the delivery of high-quality health care services.

"It is extremely disappointing that, in this time of severe shortages of health care professionals, the RNAO would seek to undermine the important role physician assistants can play in caring for patients," said Dr. Doig. "PAs have proven able to fulfill a desperately needed role in enhancing access to care for Canadians, improving patient satisfaction and relieving the stress currently experienced by both physicians and nurses.

Dr. Doig added that in the United States PAs have a very successful, four-decade track record. There are currently over 70,000 PAs working in the US. Here at home, the first class of PAs graduated from the Canadian Forces Medical Services School at Borden, Ont. in 1984 and play a key role in health care delivery to patients.

The CMA recognized the PA as a health professional in June 2003 and accredited the Canadian Forces PA program as a certificate-awarding program in 2004. Since then physician assistant training programs have been developed at the University of Manitoba and McMaster University in Hamilton.

The CMA maintains a national accreditation process for PA educational programs, to ensure that programs are preparing PA practitioners who meet the national competency standards and can provide safe and effective patient care.

"Canada's two university-based PA programs drew some 350 applicants for just 35 positions when they opened enrolment last spring," said Dr. Doig. "These are dedicated individuals, who follow a rigorous program and take their training seriously."

For patients, having PAs working under the direct supervision of a physician is a major strength of the PA model. This interaction ensures true collaborative care, enhanced communication and professional oversight that strengthens patient safety not threaten it, as the RNAO claims.

"Canada's doctors welcome the complementary, not competitive, role PAs can play in expanding the ability of physicians to deliver care for patients," added Dr. Doig.

For more information on the role of physician assistants, click on http://www.cma.ca/index.cfm/ci_id/86599/la_id/1.htm.

SOURCE Canadian Medical Association

For further information: For further information: Lucie Boileau, Manager, Media Relations, Tel.: 1-800-663-7336 x1266, (613) 731-8610 x1266, Cell.: (613) 447-0866, lucie.boileau@cma.ca


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